BPSU - Female Genital Mutilation in children and young people under the age of 16 in the UK and ROI

Surveillance of female genital mutilation (FGM) in children and young people under the age of 16 started in November 2015. The study team hopes to identify the number of children who are diagnosed with FGM in the UK and Republic of Ireland each year and collect information about FGM, how it presents in children and is treated.

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Lead InvestigatorDr Deborah Hodes

Dr Deborah Hodes (pictured)
University College Hospital
250 Euston Road

Project Co-investigator

Dr Najette Ayadi O'Donnell
University College Hospital
250 Euston Road

Email: fgm@rcpch.ac.uk


Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the name given to any procedure such as cutting, removing flesh or other injury to the genitals of women or girls for a nonmedical reason. There are many different types of FGM and you may hear it called by other names like female circumcision or ‘Sunna’.

FGM can involve cutting or removing the clitoris, or sewing together the vaginal opening; this type is common in some African countries. Another type of FGM is a small prick or cut, sometimes to the skin around the clitoris, this is more common in Southeast Asia. FGM is illegal in the UK and since 2003, it has been illegal to take a child out of the country for the purpose of FGM.

There are few dedicated clinics for FGM, of the 14 clinics listed on the Department of Health website, nine are in London and there is only one clinic in the UK for children, which is also in London. New data will allow service planning.

Information on why children with FGM are seeing doctors, how FGM is presenting, associated medical problems and what care is needed for these children is required. This information could be used to plan health services, to educate professionals and to produce guidelines.

FGM RCPCH Poster 16.05.2017_FINAL (3).jpg

Mandatory reporting duty

The new female genital mutilation mandatory reporting duty came into force on 31 October 2015. The Government has published information for professionals and the police

The duty will require regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report ‘known’ (visually identified or verbally disclosed) cases of FGM in under 18s to the police. The duty will not apply in relation to at risk or suspected cases, or in cases where the woman is over 18. In these cases, professionals should follow existing local safeguarding procedures.

More about RCPCH activity on FGM - including changes to guidance, policy and legislation

Case definition

Please report any cases of FGM in children aged under 16 (i.e. up to 15 years 11 months) seen in the past month, not already known to have FGM who was:

  • Seen because of suspected or known FGM (for example referrals from social care) 


  • Seen for another condition and FGM is suspected following assessment OR
  • Has a genital piercing OR
  • Has had female cosmetic genital surgery including labioplasty.

If uncertain or awaiting further assessment please notify BPSU about the child.

Reporting to the BPSU does not replace statutory reporting to the appropriate bodies.


November 2015 to November 2017 (24 months of surveillance). Follow-up until November 2018 (12 month follow-up).


Department of Health - England


This study has been granted Section 251 HRA-CAG permission (CAG Reference: 15/CAG/0178).

Support group

Further information


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